New AHA Chapters in Arkansas, Colorado and Virginia

By Eric Nguyen


Since June, the AHA has added five groups to its field network, and surprisingly, these groups are starting up in places that not expected: mainly in areas where there were previously no atheist groups before, let alone humanist groups. Local organizers sought to change this.

In September, Jason Bathon started the Northwest Arkansas Humanist Association. While there were already some freethought groups in the area, “they seem to have one continuous theme, atheism vs. religion.”

“In fact,” says Bathon, “when a member would bring a religious person who were perhaps on the fence about their faith, most of the time the freethought group were so caustic that they would turn away these new people and place a stigma in their head that the atheists were just as opinionated, elitist, and judgmental as what they were trying to moving away from.” In starting the Northwest Arkansas Humanist Association, Bathon sought to rise above the “god debate” and instead focus on political and general equality, community support and involvement, and social interaction with like-minded people.

Support and community involvement was also the reason Jesse Bond, founder of the Colorado chapter started Humanists Doing Good. Located in Grand Junction, it is the first AHA in Western Colorado. According to Bond, it was founded in reaction to misconceptions of humanism. “Many people around here have not heard of humanism or confuse it with things like behaviorism from psychology.” He continues, “Sadly, there are a few who seem to have been taught that it is the ultimate evil.” However, having a group of humanist coming together to do good, has help change this.

Bond points to a recent group event where members carried out a random act of kindness for their community. In this case, raking leaves: “We were able to help one lady who had a medical condition which made it difficult for her to breathe. It was clear that she had meticulously cared for her yard prior to becoming ill, and she had been worrying about how she would handle the leaves, when our group suddenly knocked on her door. She was amazed that people had showed up to help her with no other intentions than to do good. Helping people like this appears to be a far more powerful ‘argument’ for humanism than any words we could have spoken to her.”

Humanist groups are growing more than ever, giving a face to humanism in their community. As humanists, we are everyday people and we help out the community. From helping community kitchen gardens to building with Habitats for Humanity, humanism is alive and thriving and making an important impact in their communities. “We know that rationality and logical thought are the best ways of addressing human morality,” says Alan Cluverius of the United Assembly for Humanism located in Richmond, VA. Along with various service projects, they also offer weekly “unchurch” sessions to help build the local humanist community. “We want to share that with the world.”

Eric Nguyen is the field coordinator for the American Humanist Association.